I need to identify how the article (attached) establishes the importance of a myth. I am having trouble writing this. I need to come up with 200 words.
McGill, Sara Ann
Egyptian Religion; 2009, p1-2, 2p
EGYPT -- History
EGYPT -- Religion
EGYPT -- Kings & rulers
Presents an overview of the role of religion in ancient Egyptian society. Creation myths; Worship of Osiris, god of the afterlife; Belief that the pharaoh was descended from the gods, and the highest religious authority in Egypt; Details of temples dedicated to individual gods; Egyptian belief in life after death; Preparation of the corpse for its journey in the afterlife; Composition of funerary literature for passage into the afterlife.
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<A href="http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=17949142&site=ehost-live">Egyptian Religion.</A>
Ancient Egyptians left a number of artifacts in their tombs and temples. These artifacts provide scholars with valuable information about Egyptian religious beliefs, gods, and burial practices. Although much of Egyptian religion is still shrouded in mystery, we know that most of the gods in the Egyptian pantheon were initially worshipped in only one locality. As time passed and certain cities became politically important, those cities' patron deities gained significance throughout the rest of Egypt.
Egyptian gods were often depicted as animals, humans or a mixture of both. For example, goddess Hathor is alternately depicted as a cow, a woman with a cow's head, or a lion. Later in Egyptian history, gods were joined together. The gods Amon and Ra were combined to become Amon-Ra.
In ancient Egypt, there were a number of different stories that explained how the universe was created. These stories were handed down orally and undoubtedly went through some alteration before they were recorded. The three most important of these creation myths come from the cities of Heliopolis, Hermopolis and Memphis, and contain some of the same characters. The differences may be explained as a reflection of the cities' competition for political power.
Heliopolis, which means the city of the sun in Greek, was located south of the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt. The creation myth that originated in this city began with the chaos of limitless waters. These waters were the god Nun. From Nun came the god Atum, who created himself. Atum emerged out of Nun into existence on the first mound of earth. He became the sun god.
Atum created two deities, Shu and Tefnut. Shu was the god of dry preserving air like the air found in the desert. Tefnut was the goddess of humid damp air. One version of this myth tells that one day, Atum lost his two children in the midst of endless waters of Nun. Atum searched and searched through Nun for Shu and Tefnut. When he finally found them, Atum cried for joy. Out of Atum's tears came humans.
Shu and Tefnut created two more deities. They were Geb, the god who represented the earth, and Nut, the goddess who represented the sky. Geb and Nut created four more gods: Isis, Osiris, Nepthys and Seth.
Geb and Nut (the earth and sky) were separated by their father, Shu (air). Nut's position as the sky kept the waters of Nun, or chaos at bay.
The gods from Heliopolis: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Isis, Osiris, Nepthys and Seth, total nine in number. Therefore, they were called the Heliopolitan Ennead.
Another creation myth from Egypt originated in the city of Hermopolis, located in Upper Egypt. The creation myth from Hermopolis began with a different type of chaos from the one explained in the Heliopolitan myth. Instead of being made up of only endless waters, the Hermopolitan chaos consisted of 4 elements represented by four pairs of deities. Nun and Nunet represent the primeval waters also found in the Heliopolitan story. He and Hehet represented endless space. Kek and Kekhet represented darkness. Amon and Amonete represented invisibility or hiddenness. These eight gods made up the Hermopolitan Ogdoad.
The story continues when the primeval mound of earth rose up out of the chaos. Then an egg appeared. The egg cracked and out of it came the sun god Atum in a stream of light. Atum then created everything that existed in the Egyptians' world, including the other gods, people, plants and animals.
Memphis, the capital city of Lower Egypt, was located south Heliopolis. Its creation story seems to be a mix of the other two stories because it contains gods from Hermopolis and Heliopolis. However, a significant difference is found. In the Heliopolitan and Hermopolitan myths, importance was placed on the fact that chaos was replaced by the order of creation. In the story from Memphis, the concept of creation was taken further, with more importance placed on the creator god, Ptah, and his work.
Ptah created with his heart and tongue, which are important symbols. The heart represents the will of Ptah, or his wish to create. His tongue was used to speak the commands of creation. Atum received and obeyed these commands. He created the other gods, plants, animals and humans. All three of these myths demonstrate the ancient Egyptian cosmology, or belief in the origins of the universe. A common element in all three of the stories was the chaos that reigned in the beginning. Only after a god began the work of creation, could there be order. Another common element was the creating activity of the sun god, Atum. This shows that Egyptians also believed the sun to have great life-giving power.
The god Osiris was worshipped since the beginning of the Old Kingdom in 3000 BC. By the Middle Kingdom, he became the god of the afterlife. Osiris judged all Egyptians when they died. This made him important not only to the elite in Egypt, but also to the commoner.
The myth of Osiris developed over time and was recorded in fragments during ancient Egypt. However, the most complete version of the Osiris myth comes from the Greek historian, Plutarch. Plutarch was born in 45 AD, centuries after the Osiris myth was developed. Plutarch's Greek perspective may have kept him from understanding this Egyptian story. For these 2 reasons, scholars believe the story that Plutarch's version is flawed. However, it is the best version still in existence.
The story of Osiris begins with four siblings mentioned in the Heliopolitan creation myth: Isis, Osiris, Nepthys, and Seth. Isis and Osiris married and ruled over Egypt, during which time the land prospered and enjoyed peace.
Meanwhile, Seth, who was married to Nepthys, became jealous of his brother. Seth wanted to become king, so he devised a plan.
Seth found a group of supporters. They arranged a banquet and invited a number of guests including Osiris. During the banquet, Seth brought out an ornate chest that he and his co-conspirators had secretly made to fit Osiris. Seth offered to give the chest to the first guests who could fit into it perfectly. When Osiris got into the chest, Seth slammed the lid down and his friends sealed the box. This chest was thrown into the Nile. It floated out into the Mediterranean Sea.
The chest washed up next to a tree on the shore of Byblos, a city in Palestine. The tree's trunk grew around the chest. Years later, the prince of Byblos cut down the tree and used it as a pillar in his house. Isis heard a rumor that her husband was in Byblos, so she sailed to Palestine and retrieved Osiris.
Isis kept Osiris in the chest and hid him in the swamps of the Nile Delta. Unfortunately, Seth found Osiris and cut the dead man into 14 pieces. The pieces were then strewn all over Egypt.
Isis refused to give up, and spent years searching for these pieces. Eventually, she found them all. Isis enlisted the help of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming, to put her husband back together. Once he was whole again, Osiris became the god of the Duat, or the Underworld.
Isis and Osiris had a son named Horus. It was Horus' job to avenge his father's murder. Horus fought Seth in a number of battles. Seth was eventually defeated. Horus took his place as pharaoh on earth.
The myth of Osiris is significant because it was linked with the concepts of kingship and the afterlife.
Pharaoh The pharaoh was king over all of Egypt. His first duty was to maintain ma'at, or harmony, in his country, and he had ultimate control over all political decisions. Not only was he the final court of appeals, pharaoh was also the commander-in-chief of the military and the first minister of domestic concerns like agriculture and taxation.
Pharaoh was more than a political leader. He was considered the son of the gods and the highest religious leader of Egypt. Egyptians believed at the same time that he was the god Horus, or the living and legitimate ruler and the son of Osiris.
To keep the divine bloodline as pure as possible, many pharaohs married very close relatives, a practice reflected in the mythological marriage of Osiris and his sister, Isis. In reality, Tuthmosis II of 18th Dynasty married his sister, Hatshepsut.
The pharaoh's immortality was also expressed in art. Oftentimes buildings and statues commissioned by the pharaohs were colossal. They gave the king's statues a timeless and all powerful look. Faces were without expression and the stance reflected power and stability. Their bodies were young and without flaws.
The understanding of the pharaoh as a god seems to be tempered with the understanding of pharaoh as a human. In some informal records kept by educated scribes, the pharaoh was not immune to such human failings as aging and weakness. However, in religious writings, his divinity was upheld. This has lead some scholars to believe that the educated Egyptians made a distinction between the divine office of pharaoh and the actual pharaoh himself.
Pharaoh was in theory the only priest and mediator between the people and god. He spent much of his time conducting religious ceremonies in the temple. However, he could not possibly conduct all of the religious ceremonies in all of the temples in Egypt, so priests were appointed to take his place.
Temples in ancient Egypt were devoted to individual gods. Some of the most important temples included the temple to Amon at Karnak or the temple to Osiris at Abydos. Male priests made up the majority of a temple's staff, though women also served in temples across Egypt. Priests were well-educated members of the elite whose sole occupation was the management of the temple, its finances, and educational services. Most priests worked only part of the year, with each priest spending one month out of five working in the temple.
Because the temples were given so much wealth in the form of offerings, the priests were well-paid and sometimes enjoyed tax-exempt lands. This wealth gave them political power as well. The high priest in charge of the entire temple, who was appointed by pharaoh and often acted as advisor to pharaoh, wielded the most political power.
There were a number of ceremonies and rituals conducted in temples. The first of these rituals was held in the morning, when the statue where the god resided was washed and given offerings of food and incense. This ritual was repeated two more times each day. Only the most important priests were allowed to enter the room where the cult statue was kept.
The common people never participated or even witnessed any part of worship of these gods. Commoners were not even allowed to pass through the gates of the temple.
On occasion, the cult statue was brought out of its temple and carried to a different location. For example, the statue of Amon was taken periodically to the temple of Mut, his wife, in Luxor. This parade was the only opportunity peasants had to witness religious ritual of the official gods of Egypt. Even then, the cult statue was kept out of sight, hidden inside a box.
Paintings and reliefs found on temple walls were filled with depictions of the pharaoh making offerings to the god. This demonstrates how the pharaoh was in theory the only priest. Most scholars believe this artwork was meant to be more than just decoration. Egyptians actually believed that the paintings would take on a life of their own and care for the god in place of the physical presence of the pharaoh.
Egyptians believed that the preservation of the body was key to surviving the afterlife. They had observed how the dry desert air could preserve a body. Egyptians developed a process of mummification that did the same thing to the body that the desert did. This way, the body could remain in its tomb without decomposing.
The process for preparing the body for the afterlife began with the removal of most of the body's organs, including the brain. The heart was left in the body because Egyptians believed it was the center of reasoning and personality. The other organs were put into canopic jars. Each jar had a special stopper with a certain god's head. These gods protected the organs, which would be used in the next life. The body of the deceased was then washed with natron, a substance high in salt. The salt drew out the water from the body and dried it so that it could not decompose. Finally, the body was wrapped in strips of linen. Amulets were added as the body was wrapped to protect the body. The head was covered with a decorative mask.
In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, the deceased was placed into a wooden coffin. By the New Kingdom, the mummy was placed into multiple coffins. The priests carried the coffin to the tomb along with the person's belongings. The ceremony called the "Opening of the Mouth" was done. This ceremony gave the dead person speech and use of their senses. The coffin was put into a larger stone coffin called a sarcophagus and the tomb was sealed.
The spirits of the deceased, including the ba and ka, needed the preserved body in order to survive. The ka was a miniature version or twin of the deceased. The ka contained the person's intellect, and received the offerings of food given to the mummy by family or by priests. The ba, more synonymous with the modern concept of the soul, included the intangible aspects of the dead person. The ba was represented by a bird with the head of the deceased. The ba was able to fly anywhere.
The ka and the ba joined and created the akh, or the being that existed in the afterlife.
A dead person in Egypt had to use a series of spells in order to get into the afterlife. The first version of these spells was written on the walls of pyramids at Saqqara during the 6th-8th Dynasties. They were called the Pyramid Texts. According to different versions of the Pyramid Texts, the deceased would either join the stars in the sky or join the sun god.
By the First Intermediate Period, these spells became available to the highest nobility. They were no longer written on the walls of pyramids, but on the insides of coffins. This set of spells was called the Coffin Texts. The Coffin Texts were used throughout the Middle Kingdom. Besides the spells, directions on how to get to the afterlife were added. This was needed because the afterlife now usually referred to joining Osiris in the Underworld or Duat.
By the New Kingdom, the spells were found on papyrus scrolls called the "Book of Going Forth in the Day." Modern scholars renamed it the Book of the Dead. Anyone with enough money could commission scribes to write this book for him or her. Most of the passages were copied, but some spells were written specifically for the deceased individual.
During the New Kingdom, Egyptians believed that a dead person had a long journey head of them once they were interred. First, he or she took a ferry to the Underworld. Then, they had to pass through a series of gates or doors using the spells from the Book of the Dead. The deceased came before a tribunal of gods. The deceased had to address each god individually and swear that he or she had committed no wrongdoings. Finally, the deceased entered the Hall of Osiris where they were judged. The deceased's heart was weighed on a scale against the feather of ma'at. If the heart was heavier, this proved your sin. Sinners were eaten by the monster Ammut, ending their existence. The innocent would enter the afterlife.© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com June 24, 2018, 10:38 pm ad1c9bdddf
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